Flight test concepts
Flight Test means the process of developing and gathering data during operation and flight of an aircraft and then analysing that data to evaluate the flight characteristics of the aircraft (Subregulation 21.35 of CASR 1998 refers). In this context flight test does not mean a practical test of a person’s knowledge or flying skill (as per Part 1 of CAR 1988).
Experimental/Developmental Flight Testing involves those flight tests conducted for the purpose of defining or expanding an aircraft’s flight envelope.
Certification Flight Testing means those flight tests conducted for the purpose of demonstrating, or verifying, compliance with the applicable airworthiness standard.
Production Flight Testing includes those flight tests conducted for the purpose of ensuring each individual aircraft conforms to its Type Design and is in a condition for safe operation.
Flight test assessments take place in areas which include, but may not be limited to, the following:
Aircraft performance comprises stall speed measurement, climb rates and gradients, cruise range and endurance, descent or glide rates and gradients, and take-off and landing distances. For rotary wing aircraft hover and autorotation capabilities are included.
Aircraft flight handling qualities include stability, controllability and manoeuvrability, trim, and stalling and spinning characteristics.
Piloting and operational features of aircraft controls, systems and avionics - the Human-Machine Interface (HMI). Assessment of aircraft instrumentation and independent test instrumentation used during flight testing is also included.
Ergonomic, workload and operational environment aspects. HMI.
Flight test specialists provide a conduit between the purely engineering and the purely operational aspects of any aircraft development project. Information regarding the principal flight test specialists, Test Pilots (TPs) and Flight Test Engineers (FTEs), is available at CASA Advisory Circular AC 21.47 – Flight Test Safety (Paragraphs 7.3 and 7.4).
Professional flight test advice can be sourced through the Flight Test Society of Australia or by contacting the CASA FT&E Section.